YOU ARE YOUR OWN COMPETITION.

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My heart pounded as the list of names were being called out to us. I was seated comfortably in the front row with other football talents like myself waiting to hear whether our skills were enough to take us abroad, the land of opportunities. From where I sat, I glance back to see whether my friend, Emeka finally made it down. Emeka and I have been friends for almost 12 years now but it was time we each entered into a new future.

Six months ago, we came to Lagos from our village in Benue to ‘hustle’ and our plan was to make it big. We worked together, we ate together, we prayed together, we trained in football together, and we literarily did everything together until now.

The day the scouts came to our training facility and told us that they needed only 10 qualified players that they would sponsor to the U.S. I knew it was never going to be the same again, my best friend was about to become my competition. I started to think since then that if I could eliminate all my competition then I had a better chance of winning, as more and more people lost out during the training, I always nurse a secret fear knowing how good Emeka was, just as I was.

This fateful day, I was supposed to pay for our transport together to the training where the final selection would be done.  On this day, each man would know his fate and one of the criteria was punctuality. If you can get there early, you stood a better chance. If you got there late, you were automatically disqualified. I was finally sure that I could eliminate Emeka completely. I stole all the money there was and left the apartment where we live at 6:30 a.m. By the time my friend’s alarm would sound at 7:30, I would be gone.

The names did come out and I never made it. Emeka, of course, stood no chance because he came three hours after the event had started. That day, I felt shattered knowing that the only good thing I had in life- my friendship with Emeka was over because I was disloyal. We went apart and everything was never the same again, we did have our moments of opportunity after that but it took us seven years more, by then we were battered and weary.

The lesson here is simple, just as I have read and remains very true: Life is not about competition but about being your best. Perhaps if I had invested more energy in my training as well as encouraging my friend, we both could have made it.

“Being competitive doesn’t mean you’re not laid back or polite or too aggressive. Being competitive doesn’t insinuate that you are self-obsessed. And having a competitive nature doesn’t mean that you have the extreme desire to out-do everyone — as long as you are in competition with yourself.” (Entrepreneur.com)

The most important thing in life is getting ahead of yourself and concentrating hard on it. That’s a sure way to get ahead of the competition.

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